According to a recent survey, Wisconsin ranks third in terms of being supportive of recycling, with almost 80 percent of residents reporting that they recycle. However, not all residents know that food and beverage cartons, such as those that package milk, juice and broth, should also be recycled.
To help ensure more Wisconsin residents know to recycle their cartons, the Carton Council, an industry organization whose mission is to increase recycling of food and beverage cartons in the U.S. and Canada, is launching a consumer education campaign in the state. Starting now through the end of the year, residents in Appleton, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha will see information on social media alerting them that food and beverage carton recycling is available in their area. Using innovative digital outreach approaches including a Facebook chatbot, an online quiz and pledge, the campaign will seek to convert audiences into carton recycling champions.
“With this campaign, we are hoping to reinforce that residents should do all they can to recycle their food and beverage cartons because they truly are needed and have a local impact,” said Jason Pelz, vice president of recycling projects for the Carton Council of North America and circular economy director for Tetra Pak. “While 79 percent of residents report they recycle materials like aluminum cans, paper and plastic bottles, that number drops to 68 percent for food and beverage cartons, showing there is room for improvement.”
There is a local connection to carton recycling in Wisconsin. Once food and beverage cartons have been sorted and baled at a sorting facility, they are sent to pulp mills like Sustana’s mill, Fox River Fiber, located in De Pere, WI. Sustana is a pulp mill equipped to separate the different materials cartons are made of, and the extracted fiber is turned into pulp that is used to produce a variety of paper-based products.
“Here at Sustana, we are proud to convert recycled carton fiber that will be leveraged in a broad range of our products—tissue, printing and writing paper, and food packaging,” said Jay Hunsberger, VP of Sales and Marketing at Sustana.“ Sustana employs 100 people from the community, demonstrating a sustainable manufacturing process that contributes a positive impact in the local area. By partnering with municipalities and being part of this supply chain, we contribute to the longevity of our community sustainability and preventing waste to landfill.”
Additionally, as if further reinforcement was needed to demonstrate the state’s commitment to recycling, the Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin (AROW) has a statewide program called Recycle More Wisconsin that aims to educate residents about all recycling in the state. AROW has long been a supporter of the Carton Council’s mission to increase awareness of carton recycling.
The Carton Council formed in 2009 to increase recycling of cartons used to package many food and beverage products, such as milk, juice, water, soups, broth, wine and beans. At that time, only 18 percent of households could recycle their cartons through local programs. Now, more than 62 percent of homes have access, representing 73.2 million households in 13,427 communities.